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Barcelona v Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao: Mascherano determined to cement status

Javier Mascherano is intent on cementing Barcelona’s standing as the best team in the world ahead their Club World Cup semi-final against Guangzhou Evergrande Taobao.

The UEFA Champions League winners are gunning for their third global crown in Japan – the location of their last success in 2011.

“It’s important for us and for the club the fact that we can go there and compete to be the best in the world and above all, obtain the prize,” Mascherano told the club’s official website. 

“Often FC Barcelona is talked about as a reference point in the world and now we have the chance to crown ourselves as such. We know it will not be easy, but we are excited about having the chance to do it.” 

Mascherano was part of the team that beat a Santos side featuring current Barca star Neymar to the title four years ago and remembers the occasion fondly.

“The memory is the best,” he continued. “We spent six or seven great days in Japan. We played the semi-final against a side from Qatar and we did not have too many problems.

“Above all I remember the final. It was an almost perfect game for us against a team who on paper were very tough with plenty of talented players like Neymar.

“We managed to nullify them and have a great night and become champions.

“Lots of people believe that this is a minor competition, but it is not like that, they are wrong. For us it is a very important competition and it will have an affect on the rest of the season.” 

Victory for Barca over their Chinese opponents could set up a final meeting with South American champions River Plate, Mascherano’s boyhood club, who face Sanfrecce Hiroshima in the last four.

“River is my home club. I joined them when I was 15 and I developed there as a player and as a person,” he said. 

“I was happy they won the Copa Libertadores. 

“However, I owe myself to Barca and I am excited about becoming Club World Cup champions again with my team-mates.”

AFC Champions League holders Guangzhou, who are coached by former Brazil boss Luiz Felipe Scolari, boast the likes of Paulinho and Robinho among their number and came from behind to see off Mexican outfit America in the last round.

Neymar (groin) is set to miss the fixture in Yokohama against a team who are unbeaten in 28 competitive matches.

Tue 15 Dec, 2015
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